A Nebraska women’s swim and dive meet typically takes about two hours. However, the work that goes into those two hours breaks down into nine practices, four weight sessions and three yoga classes a week. While the entire meet may take hours, an individual swimmer could be in the water for a matter of five minutes, depending on the events they participate in.
Training is one, if not the most important part of being an athlete, because once you step on that field, court or dive into that pool all of those practices are put to the test according to head coach Pablo Morales.
Getting ready for the meet is what athletes work toward in the end, so the training is always set to help them do their best, but Morales has a different way of getting ready for meets.
“We try not to disrupt our work load for meets like some do, if you end up backing off training for meets you tend to lose what you have put in … we train our girls [so] that you can swim fast in a meet even more so with a tough training before,” he said.
No matter who they are going up against in a meet, the Huskers train like usual.
Some may think that is a lot to ask, but in Morales’ almost 20 years of coaching, he hasn’t let that stop him from what he thinks will get his swimmers the best preparation for the most important swims of the season.
Things do differ a little bit when it comes to away meets because there is built-in rest time with traveling, according to Morales.
In its next road meet against Rutgers, Nebraska won’t train on Friday morning because it will be catching a flight, then going straight to the pool once it lands to start training and to get adjusted to the time zone and the pool the team will swim in.
“Training at the other schools’ pools on the day of travel and then having to start the meet that day is a lot to ask of the girls, but that’s part of the reason we train them hard,” Morales said. “To get them prepared for whatever comes their way.”
While the athletes focus on their practice for the upcoming meet, the coaches have to set the practices and lineups. For Morales, it isn’t a quick or easy process but his experience helps him make sure that he is prepared for the meet every time.
“I’ll start to put together a lineup early in the week, by scouting the other team in all aspects … start putting a lineup for the other team on what I think they will do, and then start putting in our girls,” Morales said. “Putting that together to make out an actual meet, to see where our lineup stacks up against theirs in every event … If I start to see that we are in a deficit then I might start changing up the events to see where we can make up those points,”
That strategy has worked for Morales this year, as the team has started the season 5-1.
An aspect that is perhaps a meet in and of itself is making up the relays. Morales sets up his 200-yard medley relay by the best times throughout the season in those specific strokes, but more complicated lineups are the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relays.
“It’s part of the gamesmanship of the game, trying to get the most of the four swimmers that you have … some may not be as good at a relay exchange as they are in a flat start so you put them in the lead off, and then some may not be as good a swimmer when they go last,” Morales said. “It just depends on the swimmers and where they will swim the best.”
On the mental side, Morales likes to not have the lineups clouding the team’s mind throughout the week, so they really don’t talk about the meet until about an hour and 45 minutes before the meet, when they start to warm up.
“It’s a part of making the most of them, to make sure that they are not mentally drained before they put their body to the test, always keeping the right mindset going into every meeting and event,” Morales said.
The same mindset carries over to the rest of the team as well.
“Getting in that mindset that you want to do well, but you don't put too much pressure on yourself, remind yourself that you have done all of this work for this moment so that you need to just relax,” Senior Carla Gonzalez-Garcia said.
Morales and the women’s swim and dive team will be putting all of this preparation to the test in their next dual meet against Big Ten rival Rutgers on Jan. 31.
“We ask our girls to be great even when they are tired and sore, so that when they do get their rest, [when] they need to really go fast they are going to be that much better,” Morales said.